President Barack Obama has been rightly criticized for the launch of the Affordable Care Act. But the fact is that the president did do something historic and morally right by giving almost all Americans access to health insurance.
Yes, the ACA website has been a disaster. Yes, some people are getting cancellation notices from their insurance company despite the president's campaign pledge that, "If you like your current plan you can keep it." However, the website will be fixed at some point. And the cancellations are largely due to the fact that those policies did not meet minimum standards. In fact, many people were being ripped off and didn't know it.
But these problems have given Republicans another reason to attack healthcare. They have tried everything to repeal, defund and denounce the president's signature program. Republicans have lied about the program, "death panels" anyone? They claim it's a job killer (wrong) and it will add to the deficit (wrong). The Republican controlled House of Representatives has voted 46 times along party lines to defund Obamacare to no avail. The Supreme Court has upheld the law, and President Obama ran, in part, on the health care law and got reelected in 2012. So computer problems, while embarrassing, are just another hurdle to implementation.
But change is not easy. When Medicare Part D was launched in 2005, its website was not available for months. Few patients who had signed up received prescription insurance cards, which caused huge problems for pharmacists filling prescriptions. No one is complaining about President George Bush's program now, even though it has added billions of dollars to the deficit. And the Massachusetts health care law, Romneycare, which the ACA is modeled after, was enacted in 2006, had technical problems, has been amended twice, but is successful today.
While many Americans may be frustrated with the problems encountered by Obamacare, at least the president did something about the growing healthcare nightmare. Republicans don't have a real alternative; they just talk. Take Senator Ted Cruz, who told NBC's Jay Leno that he's a "big believer in health care reform." Sure, and the Calgary Stampeder has got a plan! "I think we ought to reform health care so it's personal, it's portable, it's affordable. We ought to empower patients rather than government bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor," he told Leno.
Perhaps in a more truthful moment, just last August Cruz criticized the president and Obamacare to a Texas Tea Party group, "His strategy is to get as many Americans as possible hooked on the subsidies, addicted to the sugar." He warned, "If we get to January 1, this thing is here forever." Of course, Texas has the highest number of uninsured residents in the nation. That is why the president was in Dallas last week promising Texans access to affordable health care, vowing, "to get this done."
But the president was also busy last week apologizing to those Americans who have seen their current plans cancelled. "I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they received from me," he told NBC News. "We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we're going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this." The apology seemed genuine, and there is no reason to believe the president misled the country in order to get Obamacare passed, even in the face of all the Republican lies about the ACA.
The healthcare train has left the station, albeit with some struggles. And there will be other hurdles ahead for the law. But, as more Americans see the options that are available to them, they will understand the true significance of Obamacare. And then they will be "addicted to the sugar!"